Intellectual Disabilities

A joint project of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences and its Faculty of Electronics and Computer Sciences aims to use robots to improve the diagnosis and assessment of Children with Autism. Up until now the process has been highly complex and subjective.

“For children with autism, the robot is a stimulus that is very simple and always the same,” explains researcher Jasmina Stosic. “Its eyes are always in the same place. Its mouth is always in the same place. People are rather complicated for such children because when we talk we make various gestures. And one day we’ll wear a red t-shirt and the next day, a blue one. The robot is one constant stimulus, and the children don’t need to think about so much different information and instead can concentrate on the essence.”

Read more about Robots Diagnosing Autism.

Studies indicate that karate can help improve posture and ambulatory condition, confidence and strength for people with disabilities. Stokes Mandeville Stadium in the UK has partnered with the Disability Karate Federation to bring the martial art to the community through a new project called KickStart 100.

The Disability Karate Federation is offering the initial three months of karate classes for only 15 pounds. The classes will be held at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in November.

Research conducted in 2012 indicated significant changes in the white matter of the brain in karate practitioners leading to understanding the role of white matter connectivity as it relates to motor coordination and how the brain changes may relate to the development stage in which learning begins.

More information on karate for people with disabilities can be found on the Stoke Mandeville Stadium website.

Tracy Gray and Alise Brann are the authors of a new book, published by Brooks Publishing, on emerging trends in autism services.

Grey, leader of the Center for Technology Implementation at AIR, explains, “The convergence of mainstream technology and assistive technology is a critical milestone in promoting accessibility and independence for users with disabilities. We have been tracking trends in educational technology and assistive technology for the past decade and they indicate a shift toward portable, networked, customizable, and multitasking tech solutions with touch interfaces that mirror consumer technology.”

Read more on the book “Technology Tools for Students with Autism”

Nurfland is a new game offered for free by Project Austismus on both the iPad and Android. The game is the first in a series that teaches children 4-8 how to distinguish between various human emotions. As autistic children have played, data has been collected that, along with feedback from parents and teachers, has delivered new insights into their condition. Read more about how Nurfland helps students with autism.

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.

Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:

  • Read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
  • Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder
  • Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
  • Navigational tools (ePubs)

Read more about Read&Write for Google here or visit the Texthelp Inc website

Ghotit’s advance spelling and grammar checker and their intelligent word prediction, has been optimized for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia. For the past six years, Ghotit has been developing assistive technologies for writing and reading. They have listened to the input from their dyslexic user base and the professional community and added new advanced features for people with dyslexia in their latest release.

The features include:

  • Intelligent phonetic and context-sensitive spell checker.
  • Advanced grammar checker.
  • A powerful word prediction which is grammar and phonetic sensitive.
  • A built-in proofreader.
  • A reader that can read out any document or web page.
  • Integrated dictionary

For more information visit the Ghotit website

In research conducted by the University of Kansas, preschoolers with autism will use an iPad voice output app with their classmates. This will help determine whether the technology can improve deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills typical for children on the autism spectrum. Read more about the app for autism.

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